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Orgel, S. (1997). Commentaries. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:57-61.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:57-61


Shelley Orgel

Lawrence Friedman has told us a concise, amazingly comprehensive story of the journey of an identifiable entity called psychoanalytic treatment from its discovery in embryo by Breuer and Freud, its birth with the fundamental rule around 1895, its adolescence in the early teens of this century, its young adulthood in the 1920s, its prosperous and potent years of maturity, up to its present embattled identity crises characterized by vigorous, restless, argumentative self-examination. Friedman is a most courteous observer-critic. He tends to interpret our arguments generally as reflecting our better, more dedicated selves. I wish it were really just as he says, that “as the analyst switches this attitude on and that one off he records [and chooses?] which combinations most brightly light up the unique analytic situation.” I fear that the analyst's own humanness makes the analytic situation and the analyst's switchings and twitchings messier, more confused, more driven by desires and fears and apparent self-interest than this. I'm sure that Friedman, as a clinician and student of human nature, realizes this. Indeed, there are many lively attempts these days to use the analytic situation, as he says, as a wet specimen to examine, to “pull out the secrets of human nature.” But today's experiments also include invoking or constructing theories that rationalize yielding to internal and external “necessities,” that relieve the analyst of the demands and frustrations of being the protector of the patient's individuality and potential autonomy by maintaining reasonable abstinence and neutrality.

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